A Choice

[Listen to Asha read this story]

(Told by an Ananda devotee)

“Maybe this book will be the one that finally convinces SRF that we need to work together,” Swamiji said. He was referring to his work-in-progress in February 1990, The Essence of Self-Realization, a collection of sayings by Master.

When Swamiji speaks of “SRF” in this way, I know he means the handful of direct disciples who lead the organization, the ones with whom he lived and worked closely when he was part of SRF, the very ones who later expelled him and have maintained toward him ever since an attitude of unrelieved hostility.

Despite this separation, Swamiji maintains a positive attitude toward them. They are his gurubhais – his brothers and sisters in the Guru’s family. To respond with hostility, Swamiji feels, would be to betray not only his friendship for them, but also his relationship as a disciple to his Guru.

“I have a peculiar ‘quirk’ to my nature,” Swamiji says. “The way I feel about others has never been influenced by the way they treat me. Once I give my loyalty, I never take it back. I may alter my behavior in response to what others do, but not my friendship.

“As Master said, if you reach out your hand to someone and he keeps knocking it away, after a while you just put your hand in your pocket. That doesn’t mean, however, you have closed your heart.”

I know all this about Swamiji, so when he speaks in this optimistic way about SRF, I usually keep my doubts to myself. This time, however, I felt he had to be more realistic.

"I think the effect of this book on SRF will be to make matters worse,” I said to him. “The more inspiring the book, the more unhappy they will be with you.”

Very quietly, and very seriously, Swamiji answered me. “I simply can’t afford to think that way.” Simple words, but spoken with such conviction. Clearly, the discussion was ended.

I was taken aback, embarrassed to realize that I’d been wrong to think him naive. His positive attitude is not based on present realities, but on his hope for the future. Swamiji has the same commitment to helping SRF that he has to helping Ananda.

“I choose to love,” Swamiji has often said.

That day, I caught a glimpse of the will power, faith, and patient endurance it has taken for Swamiji to hold firmly to that decision.

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